In an interview with British newspaper The Independent to promote her new film Yes, God, Yes, which explores the sexual awakening of a teenager, Natalia Dyer spoke out against the sexualisation of young actors.
The 25-year-old, who plays Nancy Wheeler in Netflix's science-fiction horror series Stranger Things (2016 to present), said she feels protective of her teenage castmates. The hit show catapulted its young stars from anonymity to stardom.
"No one had any idea how successful the show would be," she said. "There was no preparation - there couldn't have been, even if we'd known."
Calling the series' success a "surprising and overwhelming shock", the American actress said it comes with certain downsides for its young cast, particularly their over-sexualisation.
"I feel protective over the younger kids even though they're not kids anymore; they're teens," she said. "They're all great people and all having to grow up in very crazy circumstances.
On the media attention, she noted: "As a private person, I just feel like, leave people alone - unless you're talking about their work or what they want to talk about."
She has also found fame challenging to navigate. Describing herself as having "mouse-like and discreet" tendencies, she said: "It's lovely to meet fans. But it's very like, 'Oh my gosh, I just want to go to the grocery store and get some milk. I don't want to take a photo everywhere I go.' At first, it was jarring. There are fans everywhere. It's a difficult thing to navigate."
Looking back on the journey, she added: "It's been like, five years since we started Stranger Things, and I've become more confident in how I handle situations. At first, I had quite a few bouts of anxiety just as the show was coming out because there's this mentality of letting people down and not giving enough."
Her co-star, Millie Bobby Brown, had also addressed the pressures of public scrutiny on young people in an Instagram post on her 16th birthday in February.
The British actress wrote: "There are moments I get frustrated from the inaccuracy, inappropriate comments, sexualisation, and unnecessary insults that ultimately have resulted in pain and insecurity for me."